It may lose world heritage status if not conserved: PM

Published : 8:11 am  July 13, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Yohan Perera   
It is essential to conserve the Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya also known as the Cave Temple Complex if the historic site is to retain its world heritage status, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a group of young Buddhist monks who met him at Temple Trees yesterday.  DM_20170713_A001-7


“The Government is prepared to stop the conservation work if the Maha Nayake Theras want it stopped. However, it is up to the Maha Nayakes to decide the fate of this historical site. It is unfortunate if the Cave Temple Complex is to lose this status at a time UNESCO is considering the declaration of several other Sri Lankan sites including Horton Plains as world heritage sites,” he said and added that he would meet the Asgiriya Maha Nayake Thera next week to explain these matters to him.   

The Premier said some people were trying to politicize this issue targeting the next election and accused the media of giving prominence to stories such as this when there were a host of other important issues to talk about.   

“The media never gave publicity when the previous government threatened the Ven. Maha Nayake Thera of the Malwathu Chapter saying Chapter would be divided. I wonder whether it was Rajapaksa Saranag Gachami for the media at that time,” he said and added that the government was willing to talk to the Maha Nayake Theras, UNESCO and other parties to resolve this matter.   

Education and National Heritage Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said he would meet the monks and the Maha Nayake Theras and pointed out that it was the Dambullu Vihara Chief Incumbent who wanted the government to develop and conserve this historic site.   

In response to a question asked by the monks, at yesterday’s meeting, as to why the collection tills at Buddhist places of worship were sealed while Islamic, Christian and Hindu places of worship were left alone, the Premier said the law pertaining to counting the money in the tills in temples was introduced under the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance of 1931 and the counting and depositing the cash collected in the bank accounts belonging to the respective temples were carried out since then.   

“Charity tills of the Kelani Vihara were sealed in 1960 and the temple did not get the money back until Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake took office in 1965,” he said and added that the status given to Buddhism and the unitary status of the country would not be touched or changed in the new constitution.   

“All political parties including the TNA has agreed that the status enjoyed by Buddhism should remain unchanged,” the Premier said.   
The Ven. Panamure Chandrananda Thera who spoke on behalf of the monks said they were satisfied with the assurances given to them by the government.   

“We thought we will have to restrain the demon Alawaka when we came in but now we see the demon is already restrained,” he said quoting how Buddha restrained Alawaka through the Dhamma which is based on Ahimsa.